Thursday, June 01, 2006

A state of emergency

A state of emergency

Bush is a danger to the constitution in his wartime capacity as commander in chief

Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday June 1, 2006
The Guardian

Within the Bush administration something that senior officials call the "war paradigm" is the central organising principle. They do not use the phrase publicly, but they bend policy to serve it. After September 11 the war paradigm was instantly adopted. George Bush, who proclaimed "I'm a war president", assumed the paradigm as his natural state and right. According to its imperatives, the president in his wartime capacity as commander in chief makes and enforces laws as he sees fit, overriding the constitutional system of checks and balances. Some of the paradigm's expressions include Bush's fiats on the treatment of detainees, domestic surveillance and international law, and his more than 750 "signing statements" - interpretations of laws that he claims he can implement as he chooses.

Article continues

In the beginning, the elements of the war paradigm appeared to be expediencies, conceived as emergency measures in the struggle against al-Qaida. But their precepts were developed before September 11 by John Yoo, promoted to deputy assistant attorney general in the office of legal counsel at the department of justice, where he was tasked to write secret memos on torture, surveillance and executive power.
Once Bush approved them, the clerisy of neoconservative lawyers put them into effect. They believe fervently that the constitution is fatally flawed and must be circumscribed. The Bush administration's holy grail is to remove suspects' rights to due process, speedy trial and exculpatory evidence. The war paradigm is to be strengthened to conduct permanent war against terror that can never be finally defeated. There is no exit strategy from emergency.

In the short run, Bush's defence of his war paradigm may precipitate three constitutional crises. In the first, freedom of the press is at issue.....